16 June 2020

Winter's busiest south coast weekend a success despite COVID-19 restrictions

| Elka Wood
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The owners of the Bermagui pub

The owners of the Bermagui pub, Yannis Gantner [left] and Luke Redmond [right] with their families late last year. Photo: Supplied.

It was a challenge South Coast business’s rose to meet: greeting an onslaught of eager tourists over the June long weekend while adhering to strict COVID-19 social distancing protocols.

According to the region’s Crime Prevention Officer, Senior Constable David Bates from Batemans Bay, the business community has been largely successful in their efforts, despite record crowds over the weekend.

“As far as we can see, people are trying to do the right thing,” Mr Bates said. “There have been no infringements for pubs and clubs that I know of since the 1st of June. It’s more education at this stage.”

Yannis Gantner is an owner of the Bermagui Beach Hotel and says he was surprised that the June long weekend was as busy as other years, despite following low periods due to bushfires and COVID-19 restrictions.

“It could have gone either way so we weren’t sure what to expect, people were either going to stay away or rush out and they rushed out!” he laughs.

The hotel was filled to the legal 50 person capacity throughout the weekend.

“We didn’t have to turn anyone away,” Yannis said.”We’re lucky to have a big venue, so it’s just about having people in different areas.”

The Hotel owners and staff have been kept busy adapting to changing restrictions.

“There are lots of challenges with the restrictions and things have been changing quickly but I think everyone just appreciates being able to trade again.”

Further north, The Mossy Cafe at Mossy Point also saw big crowds.

“It was the busiest weekend we’ve had so far this year, it was crazy,” said staff member Nick Brown, who was one of 20 kitchen and waitstaff working in the popular cafe over the long weekend.

The Mossy Cafe

The Mossy Cafe is “doing everything it can,” to help people adhere to social distancing. Photo: Supplied.

The cafe has done everything they can to help people adhere to social distancing requirements, including putting spacing marks on the floor where queues form and spacing tables apart.

“We had to remind people a lot over the weekend to keep their distance, as soon as the 50 people dine-in rule came in, people seemed to forget about social distancing at all,” Nick says.

Luckily, the local police often come to the cafe for coffee and a police presence helped people remember.

“We’ve been doing so well to combat COVID,” Nick commented. “It would be a shame to see all our hard work go out the window if people start ignoring the rules now.”

Constable Bates says he and local law enforcement want to see businesses up and running again.

“We’ve all been in this community through the fires and restrictions, we know how hard it’s been on local business and we all want to see the region succeed,” he said.

“No local business has been fined yet in relation to COVID restrictions but that’s not to say we wouldn’t. We’d issue a warning first and then if someone was deliberately flouting the restrictions, that’s when we’d be issuing a ticket.”

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